OKC Thunder look to get right against Pistons in quick turnaround

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The OKC Thunder play host to the Detroit Pistons on the second night of a back-to-back. This represents the second home game of the season for the OKC Thunder after the Denver Nuggets handed out a beatdown in Sunday’s home opener. With the Nuggets game coming in a matinee, the Thunder have a few more hours than usual to get prepared for a back-to-back.

The Detroit Pistons come into this contest 2-1, the same record that the Oklahoma City Thunder hold through two games. The Pistons will be without Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Livers, and Monte Morris. The OKC Thunder will continue to miss Kenrich Williams (Back) and Jaylin Williams (Hamstring).

The OKC Thunder look to get back on track against the Pistons; what to watch for in this contest.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking to rebound from one of his worst outings in years. What is undoubtedly an anomaly, it is good to see the OKC Thunder having their entire starting lineup intact on the second night of a back-to-back.

What to watch for: 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander bouncing back: 

The OKC Thunder have leaned on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as their primary guy since the 2020-21 season. Each season, the Kentucky product has improved year over year. He rose to Superstardom last season, averaging over 30 points per game with jaw-dropping efficiency and being named to the First-Team All-NBA squad.

Throughout that time, even with constant moving parts around him, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has limited his bad games. They are very few and very far between. On Sunday against Denver, he had one of those bad games.

Now, on the second night of a back-to-back, he has a chance to flush that contest. While watching how the Pistons defend him will be fun, and Ausar Thompson has been really good on that end of the floor; this has the chance to be a special game for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Josh Giddey getting loose: 

Josh Giddey was OK against the Nuggets, nothing great, but certainly not aberrant either. However, when you get beat down to that degree, the daggers fly from the fanbase. Especially on the heels of a poor shooting night in Cleveland despite the comeback win.

However, even as his scoring woes heightened against the Cavs, he found other ways to impact the game as a passer and rebounder. Now, against a big Detroit team, Giddey will have to find a way to get loose and put it all together.

Isaiah Joe’s jumper: 

To this point in the season, Isaiah Joe is shooting just 29 percent from beyond the arc. That is a small sample size, going 5-for-17 on trey balls through three games.

Last season, Isaiah Joe was a lethal sniper from three-point land, shooting 40 percent from past the tape. However, while he flashed extreme highs, shooting the three-ball at a 47 percent clip in January, he also had a low of 30 percent from distance in March.

While some might worry that last season was an outlier, it simply is too early to judge that. The most likely outcome is that Joe is simply having a slump early, whereas last year, it was late after his reputation had already been set. So, it went relatively unnoticed.

The Thunder offense lacked spacing yesterday, and Denver was lengthy and athletic enough to make OKC pay. Tonight against Detroit, Isaiah Joe getting going from beyond the arc can be the difference against a team with big men depth to pack the paint for 48 minutes.

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